I had every right to be there: discriminatory acts towards young people with disabilities on public transport

Sarah Wayland, Jamee Newland, Liz Gill-Atkinson, Cathy Vaughan, Eric Emerson, Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines findings from a qualitative study exploring the experiences of young adults with disabilities regarding their perceptions of interpersonal discrimination on public transport in two Australian states. Interpersonal discrimination by members of the public included contests for accessible seating, receiving unwanted physical assistance, bullying and intimidation. Participants reported that transport staff engaged in verbal abuse and hostile interactions including questioning the young person’s disability. These experiences appeared to be influenced by narrow perceptions of disability, visibility or otherwise of the young person’s impairment, limited understanding of the needs of young people with disabilities, and the age and gender of the person behaving in a discriminatory way. The discriminatory experiences were reported to have had a negative impact on the social and economic participation of these young adults in their communities.Points of interest The participants of the study disclosed diverse experiences of interpersonal discrimination by the travelling public and transport officials. Interpersonal discrimination impacted on some of the young adults’ capacity to move about freely, as they sought to avoid exposure to prejudicial attitudes and verbal abuse. Heightened concerns about getting to and from activities safely affected the young adults’ willingness to use public transport for their daily activities. Eliminating day-to-day interpersonal discrimination that young adults with disabilities experience on public transport requires legislative, policy and societal change.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalDisability and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Accessibility
  • barriers
  • discrimination
  • public transit
  • public transport


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